The “Fight for $15″ march through Seattle brings almost 1000 demonstrators to the streets

Several hundred workers, students, teachers, activists, and union members gathered at Occidental Park in Seattle for a rally to mark the start of a protest for living wages in Washington. The demonstration, part of a national day of action, brought together workers from all walks of life, from WalMart to Seattle University, with a focus on labor rights and enforcing the $15 minimum wage in Seattle. The first stop on the route was in front of the Uber offices in Seattle, where activists demanded drivers receive fair compensation. As the march continued towards Westlake Park, workers could be seen raising fists of solidarity, waving, or honking horns as demonstrators walked by. Working Washington and other labor groups met the crowd at Westlake for a speaking event featuring workers from Macy’s, who receive less hours than required to pay their bills. Demonstrators then marched around Macy’s before heading to Cal Anderson to meet with workers from SEIU union members and continued down 12th Ave toward Seattle University. The protest entered the Pigott Auditorium, occupying the space with speakers, and banner drops. As the students filed out of the building, they were directed to 12th and Madison, where 21 activists were peacefully arrested for civil disobedience in protest of poor treatment of adjunct faculty at Seattle University.

From the Facebook event page…

From SeaTac & Seattle to Olympia & Aberdeen and beyond, working people are rising up and taking on giant corporations like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Alaska Airlines.

We made history by passing a $15/hour minimum wage last year — but $15 in Seattle is just the beginning.

There will be actions & events across the state, but it all comes together in Seattle, when 1000+ will snake through downtown with rallies, actions, and more that let the world know: $15 is just the beginning.

$15 is just the beginning:
Worker rights and justice for all.

SEATTLE:
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
2:00 pm Occidental Park
3:00 pm Westlake Park
3:30 pm Cal Anderson Park
4:30 pm Seattle University (12th & Marion)

http://www.workingwa.org/15-is-just-the-beginning

UW Regents dinner ends with police escort of board members from the building

Approximately 75 students, workers, and union members met at the Husky Union Building to protest wage inequality. The demonstrators then marched to the The University of Washington Club for the Regents Dinner. After marching to the building, students formed a picket line, chanted “Reclaim UW”, and eventually entered the building. UW police kept a watchful eye and and denied any signs on sticks from entering. Students entered the Cascade room where a separate dinner was being held before entering the room holding the Regents Dinner. The Regents were standing, reading material passed out by UW students while other students and workers spoke on issues of income inequality, higher tuition, $15 min. wage, too many vacancies, etc. The director of the board announced they could stay if they weren’t distracting. The students continued to state their demands and police formed a line around the table. The board turned away from the crowd and sat down to eat their dinner while the students and workers kept speaking. The director announced again, amid boos and jeers, that they were being disruptive and needed to leave. The chief of the UW police then attempted to speak but was drowned out by students booing and demanding to be heard. UW students continued to speak and the decision was made by the board to cancel the meeting. The regents then stood up and exited the meeting room escorted by UW police. Students continued to speak and eventually left the building.

“On Wed, April 8, the UW Board of Regents will enjoy an extravagant meal on campus ‑ but students and workers are crashing their party.

A new coalition of students and workers called Reclaim UW will attend the Regents dinner to demand an end to rampant inequality on campus. Tuition has increased over 230% since 2000. The campus has witnessed drastic budget cuts and the rise of poverty wage jobs, while over 1,700 UW employees are being paid over $150,000 a year.

Message us if you’re interested in joining the growing list of campus organizations that are part of Reclaim UW.

Academic Workers for a Democratic University (AWDU)
African Student Association (ASA)
Asian Coalition for Equity (ACE)
Confronting Climate Change (Divest UW)
Health Equity Circle (HEC)
International Socialist Organization (ISO)
Outside Agitators 206
Scholars Against Systemic Racism (SASR)
Social Worker Student Union (SWSU)
Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER)
UAW 4121
United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)
UW Real Food Challenge (RFC)
UW Students for Farmworker Justice
Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 1488″

– Facebook event page… https://www.facebook.com/events/442588669251306/

Seattle City Council approves resolution to expand tent cities in Seattle

Moments after voting to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Seattle City Council voted to allow three encampments on public and private land in the city, adding shelter beds and case managers, and helping other cities with their homeless populations. Housing activists packed the chambers, standing next to activists opposing the TPP, but showing solidarity by holding signs. Excellent reporting by Heidi Groover can be found here…http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2015/03/30/21980709/city-council-gets-chance-to-help-homeless-peopleand-does-it

Seattle City Council passes resolution in unanimous opposition to Trans Pacific Partnership

The Seattle City Council chambers were packed today as hundreds gathered to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Multiple speeches from labor leaders, environmental activists, and community members voiced opposition to a trade deal with details known by a select few while only Alex Parle, executive vice president of the National Center for APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Corp.) in Seattle, Eric Schinfeld, Council President for the Washington Council on International Trade, and a representative from Microsoft spoke in opposition of the resolution.
After several testimonials, Seattle City Council Members Mike O’Brian, Kshama Sawant, Nick Licata, and Bruce Harrell spoke briefly before unanimously confirming the resolution. The entire resolution can be found at the bottom of The Stranger’s article here…http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2015/03/30/21981325/seattle-city-council-unanimously-opposes-fast-track-for-the-trans-pacific-partnership

Table flipped at Howard S. Wright construction firm in protest of proposed new youth jail in Seattle

Monday, March 30th 2015

Members of EPIC (Ending the Prison Industrial Complex) and YUIR (Youth Undoing Institutional Racism) joined with local clergy and activists to protest the “Children and Family Justice Center”, that will be replacing the current youth detention center in the coming years. The activists met at Key Arena and walked to the Howard S. Wright construction headquarters where activists set up a table in the lobby of the Wright Construction office. Then, scripture was read, first by Lauren Cannon, then Mike Denton. Rick Derksen then explained why a table was being flipped and compared the action to Jesus in the temple, flipping tables of the bankers. As soon as the collective group flipped the table, it was packed up, leaving coins and letters on the floor and a letter was delivered to the Howard S. Wright Construction company by Brandon Duran. Activists then left the building to meet back at Key Arena for a debrief.

From a pamphlet given out at the event

Trinity of Talking points: We are here as people of faith in the spirit of Jesus, who overturned the tables in the Jerusalem temple at the beginning of Holy Week, thus challenging a religious, economic, and political system that was exploiting the poor and marginalized of his day.

1. Accountability: We stand in solidarity with Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) – groups led by youth of color who are collectively organizing to dismantle racist systems.

2. Shifting Narrative: As predominantly white churches/denominations we claim our complicity in upholding structural racism. We know that while we benefit in very tangible ways from these unjust systems, we also pay a very real price both economically, physically, emotionally, morally, and spiritually.

3. Fix Racist Systems: This new youth jail project is an extension of the prison industrial complex in this country and in the U.S. as a whole, a system of modern-day slavery that has a destructive impact primarily on communities of color. We call on you to put your contract with King County on hold until King County agrees to listen to EPIC and YUIR, that is to listen to those communities most impacted by the juvenile justice system in this country.”

Seattle’s Space Needle workers demand raise and fair union contract

Space Needle workers, union members, and labor activists gathered on the steps of the Space Needle for a rally demanding a fair union contract and protesting current low wages. Seattle city council members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant joined the demonstration and spoke about the need for the symbol of Seattle to treat their workers well and provide a living wage. The National Labor Relations Board has found the Space Needle guilty of 65 labor violations and instead of rectifying the situation, the Space Needle instead chose to fight each separate charge in court, further delaying negotiations and adding to the already 1000 plus days the workers have not received a raise. After the rally, Space Needle workers marched to the head office, located four blocks away, and demanded to be seen by the CEO but were once again blocked by the Director of PR, Dave Mandapat.

From the Unite Here Local 8 Press release…

SEATTLE – Space Needle workers and labor and community supporters rallied Wednesday to again send the message to Space Needle management that workers deserve a raise.

Wednesday’s rally at the base of the Space Needle featured statements by workers at the Symbol of Seattle who are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living in the city.

“I sat my parents down and we went over all the bills that we are responsible for monthly. Just looking at the rent alone, my whole paycheck was used up” said valet cashier Veronica Chernichenko, who stood surrounded by her coworkers next to a banner reading “1,000+ days without a raise.”

The Space Needle has refused to give the cooks, elevator operators, greeters, and other workers a raise for over 1,000 days, instead offering their employees an insulting webinar on how to “live on less.”

“It’s heartbreaking to know that the struggles I’m facing wouldn’t be such a struggle if we got the raises we deserve,” said Chernichenko. “Without the dedicated staff it has, the Space Needle would not be the icon that it is today.”

 

Space Needle workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 8, have been operating under an expired contract for nearly three years.

Ingersoll Gender Center founder Marsha Botzer MC’d the event, which also featured words of support from Seattle City Council members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant.

Councilmember Sawant called the behavior of the Seattle landmark “disgraceful.”

Since the union contract expired, Space Needle management has committed a number of violations of federal labor law, including coercing and intimidating union workers. A January ruling by the NLRB would punish the Space Needle for its attempted union-busting and bring two workers back to work with significant back pay. However, the Space Needle has chosen to appeal the ruling, further delaying justice for workers.

“I encourage the Space Needle to drop its appeal of the NLRB ruling and to restore my and your employees’ pride, faith and trust in the Space Needle Corporation,” said Councilmember Licata.

Following the rally, which drew over 75 workers and labor and community supporters, workers marched to Space Needle corporate headquarters on 6th Avenue. There, they delivered a petition with the signatures of a majority of Space Needle workers and over 500 supporters calling on the company to drop its legal appeal of the NLRB decision and to give workers a raise.

This is the second time that a majority of workers have expressed their need for a raise directly to Space Needle management, and the second time that the company has failed to meaningfully address workers’ concerns.

Management did recently announced that they would be hiring 200 temporary summer employees, many at a higher wage rate than most current union employees. The first summer hiring fair was also scheduled to take place on March 18.

###

UNITE HERE Local 8, the hospitality union of the Pacific Northwest, represents nearly 5,000 workers in hospitality and foodservice throughout Washington and Oregon, including SkyCity restaurant employees, banquet servers, elevator operators, greeters, and other workers at the Space Needle. For more information, please visit our website at: http://www.unitehere8.org

Abby Lawlor

UNITE HERE! Local 8

2800 First Ave. Ste. 3

Seattle, WA 98121

(206) 963-6458

abby@unitehere8.org

www.unitehere8.org

Seattle University students and faculty join national walk out for better treatment of adjunct professors

Hundreds of Seattle University students and faculty walked out of class to join Seattle city council members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant in a picket on the grounds of Seattle University. Protestors demanded an end to union busting, as adjunct faculty are currently unable to unionize, although a vote by the adjunct professors shows interest. Kshama Sawant, who worked for both Seattle Central College and Seattle University as adjunct faculty at the same time, said “I was paid significantly more at Seattle Central, because I had a union that had negotiated a better contract”. Seattle University joined with other universities and colleges around the country for a national day of action in support of adjunct and non tenured teachers.

From the Facebook event page…

On February 25 at noon many of our professors, both adjunct and tenured, will be going walking off the job. They are striking because Seattle University administration has been fighting adjunct unionization on the grounds that they deserve religious exemption from labor law. The NLRB ruled that religious institutions are not exempt but SU has not shown signs of budging. Adjuncts face inadequate working conditions, unfair wage compensation and have no job stability.

Your adjunct faculty are asking for your support in their strike. Please consider attending the walkout in solidarity with our professors as well as faculty nationwide who will also be walking out.

Meet at the flagpole for a teach-in by professors. We will then move to 12th Ave and Columbia for a picket to draw public attention to the plight of SU adjuncts.

Please also sign our student letter committing to support of the SU unionization efforts: https://925.seiu.org/page/signup/we-are-seattle-university-and-we-are-walking-out-1.”

For more information on the National Adjunct Walkout Day…

http://nationaladjunct.tumblr.com/